HomeFreshwater FishFreshwater Aquarium BasicsDo Betta Need An Air Pump and When They Require It?

Do Betta Need An Air Pump and When They Require It?

The question of whether Betta fish need an air pump is a topic of discussion among betta enthusiasts. While some argue it’s essential, others believe it’s not mandatory.

In this article, National Park Aquarium will clarify how bettas can survive without an air pump, determine when they need it, and explain the benefits of having an air pump in betta tanks.

Do Betta Fish Need an Air Pump?

Unlike other ornamental fish, bettas can survive without an air pump due to a unique respiratory organ called the labyrinth. This organ allows them to breathe a small amount of air. This is why bettas can be kept in bowls without an additional air supply.

Betta Labyrinth Organ
Betta Labyrinth Organ

Do Betta Fish Need Oxygen?

Bettas can breathe air from the surface and do not necessarily require an air pump. As long as there is surface agitation, bettas will have enough dissolved oxygen in the water to breathe.

However, bettas need oxygen in the tank water for their growth. Bowls are not an ideal choice as they limit the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water.

do betta fish need oxygen pump
do betta fish need oxygen pump

When Betta Fish Require an Air Pump

Signs that your betta fish might be in need of more oxygen include reduced swimming activity and decreased appetite. As oxygen levels decline further, you may observe labored breathing and rapid gill movements. The fish will attempt to extract more oxygen from the water by passing additional water over their gills.

1. When Your Betta Shows Signs of Illness

If your Betta Fish is unwell and receiving medication, introducing an air pump can aid in its quicker recovery. Medication side effects can deplete oxygen levels, which an air pump can counteract.

By boosting oxygen levels and minimizing carbon dioxide, a betta air pump can create a healthier environment for your fish to recuperate.

2. When Your Filter Stops Working

In emergencies like a malfunctioning filter, an air pump can be a temporary solution. Filters uphold water cleanliness and oxygenation.

If a filter breaks unexpectedly, adding an air pump for betta fish can maintain essential oxygen supply until the filter is repaired or replaced.

3. When Your Betta Seems Less Playful

To enhance your Betta’s liveliness and create an engaging environment, consider incorporating an air stone. While Betta Fish can survive without constant water movement, adding an air pump generates oxygenation.

If your Betta appears lethargic, an air pump for betta fish can energize them by enhancing oxygen levels and producing lively bubbles.

Source: Aquarium Show

Learn more: The best pH for betta fish and why is it crucial for their health?

Benefits of an Air Pump for Betta Fish

While bettas don’t necessarily need an air pump, if you want to use one in a growing tank, consider choosing a type that suits your preferences but ensures moderate agitation. Some benefits include:

  • The air pump aerates the water column, preventing your fish from swallowing bubbles.
  • The bubble maker decomposes harmful compounds like ammonia.
  • Bubbles act as a toy, especially for lively betta fish.
  • The air pump causes surface movement, controlling the growth rate of algae.
betta fish air pump
Betta fish air pump

Do Air Pumps Stress Betta Fish?

An air pump is used to aerate a betta fish tank. However, in reality, it can stress your fish as bettas typically prefer calm waters. Aeration is not crucial for a betta fish tank. If you have a filter, you won’t need it.


Bettas possess labyrinth organs, allowing them to extract oxygen from air. They don’t demand high oxygen levels for their well-being, but air pumps for betta fish can be beneficial in specific circumstances.

Betta Fish can coexist with a filter, yet an air pump becomes valuable when they’re unwell, in need of stimulation, or during filter malfunctions.

By the end of this article, you should have understood whether do betta need an air pump and when they require it. Now, you can confidently develop your betta tank without the need for an air pump.

Explore more:

Rate this post
Further Reading
Kevin Mills, the founder of Nationalparkaquarium.org


-- Founder --

I'm Kevin Mills, the founder of Nationalparkaquarium.org, where I share my deep passion for aquariums and aquatic life. With over 20 years of experience in fishkeeping, covering everything from tending to saltwater and freshwater tanks.

Kathleen Wood


-- Interrogator --

Kathleen Wood, a seasoned marine biologist, possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience in her field. Her research on tropical fish biodiversity spans over three decades, and she has contributed numerous scientific papers on aquatic life.